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Potential changes to the Missouri criminal code expected in 2017

Did you ever vote for a politician because they promised to make changes you thought would greatly benefit the community or state? Most people do. But have you ever stepped back and considered how these legislative promises affect the functionality of existing statutes? Probably not, unless you have needed to defend yourself against criminal charges.

Because our criminal statutes are so complex and subject to change over time, some crimes can become misclassified while others receive changes that increase sentencing requirements to the point where some prosecutors even start to question the fairness of the punishment. The hope though is that things will change in Missouri, especially now that changes are being suggested for the better.

As some of our Boone County readers may have heard, a bill before a General Assembly joint committee could overhaul our state's criminal code for the better -- a move that has not been successfully done since 1979. After 10 years of sifting through statutes and discussing necessary changes, the bill's first revision is completed and could lead to changes in prosecution if it takes effect at the start of 2017.

Some changes include: shifting the classification of a robbery from a property offense to the chapter concerning aggravated stealing, changing some of the punishment ranges for felonies to better match the crimes associated with the system, and adjusting the felony threshold for people who write bad checks or are accused of forgery, just to name a few.

Although the changes suggested in this first revision of the criminal code affect everything from white collar crimes to drug crimes, the passing of the bill may get little pomp and circumstance from the media. Our readers can rest assured though that we here at Harper, Evans, Wade & Netemeyer will stay on top of these changes so that we can help you present the best defense if you find yourself facing any criminal charges down the road.

Source: The Columbia Daily Tribune, "Prosecutors discuss changes to Missouri's criminal code," Alan Burdziak, Feb. 12, 2015

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